Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Carol Is Given Standing Ovation

Cleveland Press May 16, 1967

Carol Channing received a standing ovation after her performance of "Hello Dolly!" at Music hall last night. It was the real thing, too, not a matter of half the audience pausing briefly before making a run for the parking lot, which is what most standing ovations are.

This was spontaneous and electric and when it was over, the audience sat right down and waited for more. They got it, too.

Carol Channing, comedienne, returned to tell us all how much she loved us, to kid us about our Music Hall -- ". . . a civic monument, a museum; I wouldn't change a particle of dust in it."

"Hello, Dolly!" is Carol Channing's show, every musical note of it. Others can do it beautifully as Mary Martin proved in a flawless performance at Music Hall.

BUT MISS CHANNING owns it and embraces it, shares it with her audience, pauses occasionally to savor a little of it and herself.

"Dolly" is a tremendous hit, and nothing written here can detract from it. But it is a show that defies critical analysis. It's music is not that good and its book is weak.

WATCHING IT, however, is pure pleasure. Forgettable songs sparkle. Seldom has the work of a good director been so apparent.

Whenever it seems as though the show may falter the sure hand of director Gower Champion is evident with exciting dances, flawless ensemble numbers and inventive stage business.

It is a tremendous one-number show and that one number comes along part way through the second act.

The character called Dolly Gallagher Levi makes her entrance down a staircase. Walking stately and with arms flung wide she sings the title song.

AND THEN the action explodes across the stage and out onto a runway that circles the orchestra pit with Dolly and the dancingest waiters you ever saw going round and round singing Hello, Dolly!"

And that's what the show is all about.

Miss Channing emphasizes the comic aspects of the character of a meddling woman who makes her living as a marriage broker. She blinks her big eyes and licks her bright red lips and grimaces and tosses a mean hip. And whatever she does, it has its effect.

SHE SINGS in the greatest female baritone voice that ever caused a spine to shiver when hit by its low notes. And whatever she does there is total rapport between her and her audience.

It is not just the runway that brings her closer, it is her own personality.

This production has a spirited and talented bunch of dancers and singers. In principal roles Peter Walker is pleasant as a 33-year-old clerk turned loose in the big city and Dran Hamilton is appealing as a pretty widow.

MILO BOULTON is properly stuffy as a wealthy merchant but never quite achieved all of the comedy the role seems to have.

"Before the Parade Passes By" is a number filled with spectacle. It brings down the first act curtain.

"Put On Your Sunday Clothes" is pleasant, "It Only Takes a Moment" is a fair ballad and "Motherhood" is a comedy-dance number with split second timing.

The Music Hall sound system was uneven last night causing occasional blasting.